Srinagar: As part of Centre's outreach, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday visited Kashmir for the second time in a month and held talks with political leaders during which he was told the Centre should initiate a dialogue with all stakeholders to find a lasting solution to problems faced by Jammu and Kashmir.
The visit of Singh, who before leaving for Srinagar, said he will hold talks with all stakeholders and that those who believe in 'Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat' are welcome, came on a day when fresh clashes broke out between protesters and security forces in Pulwama district in which one youth was killed. The death toll in the unrest in Kashmir Valley that broke out on 8 July has now climbed to 66.
Amid tight security, Singh, who is on a two-day visit, drove through the tense city roads dotted with para-military forces who ensured he did not have to face any protesters. Immediately upon his arrival at the Nehru Guest House here, Singh, accompanied by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and other officials, held a meeting with different wings of administration including security, health and maintenance of essential commodities for the people.
Official sources said Singh asked head of para-military forces, dealing with the law and order situation, to exercise maximum restraint while dealing with protesters and also appreciated their efforts in maintaining law and order in the Valley.
The Home Minister was conveyed that there has been improvement in situation on the ground, there is no scarcity of essential commodities and health services are functioning, they said.
This is Singh's second visit to the state ever since the unrest in Kashmir Valley broke out 47 days ago when Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani was killed on 8 July. The Home Minister's visit is an effort by the central government to restore normalcy in the Valley, which has been reeling under curfew and restrictions since trouble started.
"I shall interact will civil society groups, political parties and other stakeholders," he said, before leaving for Srinagar, adding "those who believe in Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat(Kashmir’s pluralist ethos, humanity and democracy) are welcome."
After the review meeting, the Home Minister had separate meetings with heads of para-military forces and state police chief for understanding their working conditions and also to enquire whether there was an operational requirement.
Later, a delegation of opposition National Conference led by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah met the Home Minister and urged him to immediately ban use of pellet guns as a crowd control means in Kashmir. "They also demanded that Centre initiate a dialogue with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir to find a lasting solution to the problems faced by the state," sources said.
The NC hoped that the visit will lead to a meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders. BJP’s National secretary Ram Madhav told reporters in Delhi that the Home Minister will meet all those people who want to see him and talk about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.